Inquiries : 4 - 2013-9-13 17:17:07
HONG KONG, Nov 10 (Reuters) - China's copper imports are expected to remain weak in November due to delays of contracted deliveries, after the inflow into the world's top consumer of the metal fell sharply in October to a year low.
Chinese merchants have delayed contracted shipments scheduled to arrive in October-November to later months after the arbitrage window closed in September and October, traders said.
"Some booked shipments have been delayed to December and January. So November's imports could fall a lot," a trader for a large overseas supplier, said of refined copper, the most popular type in the international and Chinese markets and which accounted for 66 percent of last month's total imports.
In October, China imported 273,511 tonnes of copper, down nearly 26 percent from September, including unwrought anode, refined and alloy and semi-finished copper products, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Wednesday.
It was the second straight monthly import decline and the lowest inflow since October last year, as high prices bit into demand.
"The October data for unwrought copper and semi-finished copper products reflected domestic demand growth slowing down," Xiao Jing, an analyst at Beijing Capital Futures, said, who saw the imports included 160,000-180,000 tonnes of refined copper, compared to 241,711 tonnes in September.
She said the arbitrage -- buying from the London Metal Exchange prices and selling to Shanghai -- had been poor for much of October and that caused imports to fall because importers had been very cautious about taking the metal.
BOOKED SHIPMENTS DELAYED
Traders said Chinese merchants had asked overseas suppliers to delay shipments of refined copper scheduled to leave producing ports in September and October - to December and January next year - cutting arrivals last month and probably in November.
Some October arrivals of refined copper were put in bonded warehouses.
Some 300,000-400,000 tonnes of bonded stocks -- declared to customs but on which the 17 percent value-added tax hasn't been paid -- may be stored in Shanghai currently against 100,000-200,000 tonnes in late July, traders estimated.
"High prices have cut domestic demand for refined copper. End-users have been unwilling to build stocks due to high prices," Guo Yong, analyst at Jinrui Futures in Shenzhen city, said, who expects the imports to fall further in November.
A week-long National Day holidays also cut the arrivals.
"There was was a week-long holiday in October and we may also be seeing a reaction to higher prices. The monthly average discount for Shanghai copper in October was the greatest since since July 2008, which would have deterred imports," Joel Crane, analyst at Morgan Stanley in Australia, said.
High metal prices also bit into monthly imports of copper scrap in October, which fell 24.4 percent to 310,000 tonnes.
But Xiao at Beijing Capital said demand for the scrap was strong due to larger discounts from refined copper prices.
Prices for high-grade scrap was trading at discounts of 3,000-4,000 yuan a tonne from spot refined copper prices CU-1-CCNMM in China, compared to normal discounts of around 1,000 yuan, Jinrui's Guo said.
In China, scrap is an alternative for refined copper in the manufacturing of some semi-finished products such as brass.
Demand for refined typically falls when scrap prices are low.